Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 304pp
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Fire)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Janet Gurtler on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter
Excerpt from I'm Not Her (courtesy of Worldcat)
Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that's okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. But the smiles of her picture perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn't hod it together, who will?
When readers are choosing which book to read next, they usually look at a lot of different factors. The cover, the blurb on the back, whether or not they have read the author before and the storyline. Certain storylines evoke certain emotions and most people might consider the topic of Janet Gurtler's book, I'm Not Her to be a little depressing. But, I found it inspiring and heartfelt. This book is designed for young adult readers and tackles some tough issues including denial, the bonds between sisters and the central theme of cancer. Despite the premise, this novel it is not gloomy or overly sad. It is more a coming-or-age story than anything else and Gurtler's approach is authentic and believable.
Tess and Kristina could not be more different as characters. Kristina is an athlete, beautiful and confident, while Tess relies more on her intelligence and often feels on the fringe instead of in the in crowd. Kristina's diagnosis of bone cancer, changes their whole story dynamic, from family to friends and even the community. When I thought about how cancer affects many families, I thought that Gurtler hit it right on the head, it affects so much more than just the person who gets the bad news. I liked the fact that Gurtler tells the story from Tess's point of view and readers are able to see how each character is affected.
Tess is a great character. She's smart and caring and has a more grounded attitude than many of the other characters in the book. She goes through the greatest amount of change in the story. She learns so many lessons throughout the book, including that things and people are not always what they seem. Tess experiences a lot of emotions in this book and I think readers will be able to identify with her struggles and the feelings she has to deal with. Her relationship with her sister goes through some tough stages and Tess also must step up to try to keep her family from disintegrating. She's one tough character and I loved getting to know her in this book.
Cancer isn't an easy subject, but I think the author treated it with dignity and showed it's affects in a very realistic way. This book could have been depressing, but it wasn't. I think readers will love the characters and want the best for them. I think they will understand that this kind of heart wrenching theme was necessary to bring about the changes Gurtler was looking for in her characters and I think readers will be interested in anything Gurtler writes. It was well written, insightful and inspiring. Few families today have not been touched by cancer in some way and I thought that made the book relevant and current. It doesn't end the way readers would expect and that's an added bonus. I recommend it to YA readers and those interested in the affects of cancer.
I'm Not Her is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Janet Gurtler's work has appeared in magazines such as Today's Parent and Luxury Living Lifestyles. She now spends her time reading and writing edgy, meaningful books for and about teens. In 2007, she finished her first triathlon. She lives beside the Rocky Mountains with her son and husband in Calgary, Canada.